Oscar nomination predictions

I used to be obsessed with handicapping the Oscars, keeping a steady eye on every major award leading up the nomination announcement, spending hours picking apart all the main categories. Nowadays I pay general attention to the awards circuit (go Mad Max!) but don’t get around to making my predictions until, well, about now. Here are my predictions for the nominees in the major categories, sorted from top to bottom by my estimation of the likelihood of their nomination.

Best Picture

  • The Revenant
  • Spotlight
  • The Big Short
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • Carol
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Room
  • Creed

As always, the possibility of 5-10 nominees makes this a fun category to predict. The voting rules are a bit complex (a thorough explanation can be found here) but the gist of it is, films that get nominated are those that are (shockingly) ranked first and second on the most ballots. It’s easy to get a sense of which films are generating a lot of passion through the precursors, and the top seven films here have all gotten quite a bit of support. Room is my gut prediction. It’s almost certainly the least-seen film among major contenders, but I have a feeling that it will top a lot of ballots among those who have seen it. And finally, Creed is my annual hopediction. I’d love to see it make the cut, and I think it has more than an outside chance.

Best Director

  • Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant
  • Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
  • George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Ridley Scott, The Martian
  • Todd Haynes, Carol

The only spoiler here that I can imagine is Adam McKay for The Big Short. But I’m betting the directors’ branch of the Academy goes with Haynes, a respected auteur who has not yet received a directing nomination.

Best Actor in a Leading Role

  • Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
  • Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
  • Matt Damon, The Martian
  • Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl
  • Michael B. Jordan, Creed

Look, I have never been able to be pragmatic about Oscar predictions and I’m not going to start now. I’m not going to include this barrage of solid but mostly one-note contenders and not predict Michael B. Jordan’s tour de force work in Creed. Yes, this means predicting snubs for Bryan Cranston in Trumbo (a movie no one seems to like very much yet that everyone’s predicting for this category) and Steve Carrell in The Big Short (a very good performance that stands a good chance of being dwarfed by the size of the ensemble). So be it. DiCaprio’s winning this thing anyway, so why not be bold?

Best Actress in a Leading Role

  • Brie Larson, Room
  • Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
  • Cate Blanchett, Carol
  • Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
  • Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

Christ almighty, this is where things are getting messy. Buckle up. Larson, Ronan, and Blanchett are the frontrunners here. They’re safe. After that, we have Vikander, who is being pushed for Supporting Actress. Given that the BAFTAs and Golden Globes both balked and put her in lead, and that she has also been getting awards attention for supporting actress for Ex Machina, I’m predicting that she ends up in lead for this film. Of course, she might end up in supporting for The Danish Girl, or her votes get split every which way and she gets no nominations (a la what happened to Scarlett Johansson in 2003 when she was in almost exactly the same boat with Lost in Translation and The Girl With the Pearl Earring).

Of course, Rooney Mara is also facing some scrutiny about her category placement for Carol (she’s being pushed in Supporting but has gotten some nominations as a lead). I’m predicting her in Supporting, but we’ll see. The last spot comes down to Charlotte Rampling for 45 Years and Jennifer Lawrence for Joy. Rampling’s performance is far more critically adored, but it has been largely ignored by non-critic awards-givers. Critics largely panned Joy, but enough Academy voters rallying behind Lawrence would be far from the most surprising turn of events this year.

Best Supporting Actor

  • Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
  • Christian Bale, The Big Short
  • Sylvester Stallone, Creed
  • Jacob Tremblay, Room
  • Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

Rylance has quietly become a frontrunner in this category, and should comfortably be nominated alongside Bale and Stallone. Tremblay is another instance of category fraud (he is the protagonist of Room, narrates the movie, and is in almost every scene) but he’s here because everyone seems to forget Quvenzhané Wallis had little trouble being nominated for Lead as a child. I digress; Tremblay gave what was, for my money, the best performance by an actor this year, and I see him riding Larson’s frontrunner momentum to a nod. Idris Elba has been getting a lot of plaudits for Beasts of No Nation, but the film has garnered little other traction since its October release. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the voters opt to recognize someone from the extraordinary cast of Spotlight. Ruffalo is the best bet; he has the showiest character to chew on in a largely understated ensemble.

Best Supporting Actress

  • Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
  • Rooney Mara, Carol
  • Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
  • Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina
  • Kristen Stewart, The Clouds of Sils Maria

Don’t talk to me about this category. Don’t speak. Don’t try. I need to take a break and get a drink to stop my head from spinning.

All right, I’m back. Winslet is the only sure thing here. The only one. Mara? I could easily see voters scoffing at her category placement and putting her in lead, as I predict they will with Vikander for The Danish Girl. Or perhaps Vikander ends up here for The Danish Girl and not Ex Machina. Leigh has gotten consistent support for a movie that has otherwise sputtered on the awards circuit. Stewart has been a critical juggernaut for her performance in The Clouds of Sils Maria, which counts for more in a category as scattered to hell as this one than it does for Rampling. Long story short, there’s a good chance that Winslet, Mara, and Vikander are all nominated tomorrow and I’m still only 1/5 in this category.

That’s it. My brain hurts. I’ll see you all tomorrow morning!



About johnmichaelmaximilian

Freelance writer from New Bedford, Massachusetts. Movies are my favorite thing.

2 responses to “Oscar nomination predictions”

  1. Shannon Tricia says :

    I haven’t seen nearly enough of these films this year! Hopefully I can catch a few before the awards!

  2. TheHumanJ. says :

    Impressive predictions!

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